Online College Is Still Booming

The popularity of online college has gradually increased over the past decades. Millions of college students prefer distance education, whether it’s with one class or their entire program, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

– 109% increase in college students taking online courses since 2012
– 53% of college students took at least one online class in 2022
– 10 million college students were learning online in the fall of 2022

  • 25% of College Students take at least one online class
  • 70.8% of administrators feel online education is critical to their long term strategy
  • 67% of online students attend public colleges

Students taking at least one online course

Featured Online Programs

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The Best Online Colleges

Best Online Colleges

Online colleges allow students to earn a degree or certificate virtually. Students who enroll in fully online degree programs don’t need to visit campus to learn. Instead, they can study in a place of their choosing, such as at home, in a library, or a coffee shop.

There are a vast number of online colleges available. Finding the best one can be daunting.

Online students have many factors to consider, such as accreditation, tuition and fees, and the availability of student support services.

Consider starting your research with our rankings of the top 10 online colleges in the U.S. below.

Rank School Name City Cost

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The Rise of Online Colleges Explained

The term "online college" applies to any accredited institution offering a complete degree program fully online. While some colleges operate completely online, most online degrees are from established schools with both campus and online options.

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Explore Online Degrees and Subjects

Online colleges offer many degree and subject options that cater to various interests and career goals. These options include focuses like business, nursing, and mental health counseling. Online degree programs are available at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral levels.

Researching your options before choosing a field of study for your online education is an important step. Each degree comes with varying career paths, income potential, and level of employment. Explore the many options below to see which may align with your interests and goals.

Select a Subject

The Importance of Accreditation in Online Education

How do you know an online college can provide a quality education? One major sign is accreditation.

Accreditation is a review of the quality of colleges and universities, undertaken by various accrediting agencies. Think of it as a seal of approval and a way for employers to know your online degree has credibility.

Accreditation is important for several other key reasons:

– Accreditation is crucial for students seeking federal grants and loans for their education.
– The federal and state governments have accreditation requirements for institutions to be eligible for funds and for students to sit for licensure exams.
– Graduating from accredited institutions can enhance a student’s job prospects and career opportunities.

There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation evaluates the entire institution, while programmatic accreditation focuses on specific programs.

Accreditation should be a top priority when researching online colleges. Most institutions highlight their accreditation on the homepage of their websites. There are several databases you can use to verify an online college’s accreditation, including the:

– Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
– Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
– U.S. Department of Education (USDE)

Center for Online Education Resource Library

Online students face a unique set of issues. Whether you’re wondering about online student disability services, LGBTQ+ support at online schools, or how to transfer credits to or from an online college, our resource library is here to help.

We collected questions from parents, educators, and students to discover the most pressing issues they faced, and then put our team of experts to work finding in-depth answers.

Browse our resources